BWW REVIEW: Coolidge Ends Run in SAVING KITTY 8/2 in Cambridge

Written by Marisa Smith; directed by Lee Mikeska Gardner; scenic design, Steven Royal; costume design, Barbara Douglass; lighting design, John R. Malinowski; sound design, Jennifer Timms

Cast in Order of Appearance:

Kate Hartley, Jennifer Coolidge; Huntley Hartley, Alexander Cook; Kitty Hartley, Lydia Barnett-Mulligan; Paul Cook, Lewis D. Wheeler

Performances and Tickets:

Now through August 2, The Nora Theatre Company at Central Square Theater, 450 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, Mass.; tickets start at $20 and are available online at www.CentralSquareTheater.org or by calling the Box Office at 617-576-9278.

Stage, film and television star Jennifer Coolidge (The Women, Elling, Legally Blonde, 2 Broke Girls) ends her acclaimed run in SAVING KITTY at the Nora Theatre Company in Cambridge, Mass., on Sunday, August 2. Coolidge stars as the devastatingly funny Kate Hartley, a smart but frustrated society matron who is bound and determined to save her daughter Kitty (Lydia Barnett-Mulligan) from the kind of stifling marriage she has had with Huntley (Alexander Cook), a UN political strategist who's more tuned into his emails and text messages than he is to his flesh-and-blood wife.

When Kitty brings her soon-to-be fiancé Paul (Lewis D. Wheeler) home to meet the parents, it doesn't take long for Kate to turn her abundant pent-up hostilities on him. Concerned not only that Paul is a born-again Christian but also that Kitty has decided to leave her job as a rising television news writer to help Paul found a K-12 Christian school in the Bronx, Kate uses all her wiles to scuttle the relationship. Alternating devilishly between saboteur and seductress, Coolidge as Kate feigns a charming innocence all the while spewing out invectives like an industrial strength wood chipper. She leaves no sacred cow unskewered, but her utter lack of political correctness is so guileless that her insults land like simple, if hilarious, truths.

In lesser hands playwright Marisa Smith's scathing comedy could be lost in its familiar storyline, but director Lee Mikeska Gardner and her nimble cast have elevated the material to a riotous level. Without an ounce of force or pretention, Coolidge and company are laugh-out-loud funny. The surprise is that they are also often touching.

Coolidge, especially, reveals the emptiness beneath the bravado - not in any grand gesture but with the simple power of a pause or a sigh. As Kate she applies her trademark tough-tender vulnerability to deliver a complex woman who is as deeply feeling as she is uproariously offensive. Her barbs are her protection, and her smile is both a weapon and a mask.

SAVING KITTY doesn't necessarily say anything new about politics, religion, or relationships, but what it does say is deliciously uncensored. And thanks to Coolidge, who coats Kate's acid tongue with just the right amount of sugar substitute, SAVING KITTY is wickedly funny, as well.

PHOTOS COURTESY OF NORA THEATRE COMPANY: Alexander Cook as Huntley Hartley and Jennifer Coolidge as Kate Hartley; Lewis D. Wheeler as Paul Cook and Jennifer Coolidge

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From This Author Jan Nargi

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